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The Technical Registry PRONOM

     The Technical Registry PRONOM

    The first version of PRONOM was developed by The National Archives digital preservation department in March 2002. Its genesis lies in the need to have ready access to reliable technical information about the nature of the electronic records now being stored in our Digital Archive.

 

    By definition, electronic records are not inherently human-readable. File formats encode information into a form which can only be processed and rendered comprehensible by very specific combinations of hardware and software. The accessibility of that information is therefore highly vulnerable in today’s rapidly evolving technological environment. This issue is not solely the concern of digital archivists, but of all those responsible for managing and sustaining access to electronic records over even relatively short timescales.

 

    Technical information about the structure of those file formats, and the software products which support them, is therefore a prerequisite for any digital preservation regime. PRONOM was developed to provide this, initially as an internal resource for The National Archives’ staff, but later made publicly available for anyone to use.

 

    PRONOM 2 was released in December 2002, and provided support for the development of multi-lingual versions of the system, through the replacement of field tags. The web-enabling of PRONOM (PRONOM 3) in February 2004 represented the starting point for the development of PRONOM as a major online resource for the international digital preservation community.

 

    Since that time, considerable effort has been devoted to the development of PRONOM’s content. The initial dataset has now grown to incorporate over 1,300 individual file format entries, and work is ongoing to improve the information and coverage of file formats in the registry.

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LastUpdated:2017-07-05

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